Did you get your attic insulation upgraded, only to be disappointed with the results?

You paid a company to add attic insulation to your home. And, well … it didn’t make as near a difference as you were expecting.

 

A lot of the quotes I see from homeowners who have gotten multiple quotes are so brief they remind me of a waffle house order pad.  “Add R-30”, and that’s it! You don’t even know the brand of material of product they’re installing.

 

Maybe you’re a lucky homeowner who actually has a little detail to your quote.

Check your work order… Does it specifically mention these terms or phrases?


1. Airsealing.  All of the building science experts have been telling us that airsealing your attic floor is imperative. In fact, if you have  loosefill fiberglass insulation in your attic, airsealing is not an option - it must be done if you expect to feel improved comfort from your investment. We always perform some measure of airsealing in every attic. It simply isn’t optional.

2. Kneewalls.  A kneewall is any wall that is finished on one side (sheetrock & paint), facing conditioned space; while the opposite side of the wall is unfinished, facing unconditioned space (attic). These walls need special attention!

  • They need overall R-19 performance, with airtight sheathing or blanket material attached to the unfinished side of the wall. Here at Bird Family Insulation, we love to empty the wall of fiberglass blankets, and dense pack cellulose insulation behind a nylon blanket stretched across the wall studs, stapled-in-place. This technique gives our clients a grand slam benefit: super sound-deadening, airsealing, high R Value performance, and insect proof.
  • At the base of the kneewall, often there are unblocked joist bays. These definitely need to be sealed! This is a huge source of uncontrolled air infiltration (humid, dusty air) that migrates and languishes in the floor system. In fact, yesterday while quoting an attic, it was this exact issue that caused me to want to write this article.

3. Cellulose Insulation.  If you previously had fiberglass insulation in your attic, and you weren’t comfortable, why would you add more of the same?  Cellulose insulation (Applegate Bora Spray cellulose is my preferred product), outperforms loose fill fiberglass. But it needs to be professionally installed, with a company who does it right.

The biggest complaint cellulose suffers from is this: The fiberglass guys wrongly complain that it’s dusty. But this is a lie! When using a water sleeve and water pump, the material is no more dusty than fiberglass. It’s wonderful! And, because cellulose is a HIGH Density insulation, (versus fiberglass being a LOW density product), cellulose actually TIGHTENS your house when we install it in your attic. In my opinion, cellulose insulation is an UPGRADE over loose-fill fiberglass insulation.

4. R-Value. In our Atlanta market, you need R-50 performance from your attic insulation. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends R-49 for our attics in this region. The difference between R49 & R50 is less than ½ inch on a ruler. For R-50, we install 15” of Applegate Bora Spray cellulose insulation in our attics. If you settled for R-30, or even R-38… you probably left yourself short of the optimum level of performance you could be experiencing. Go R-49/50!
5. Attic Stair Cozy. That pulldown attic stair in your ceiling is the largest hole in your ceiling! It needs to be insulated and airsealed. Products like the Attic Tent are wonderful accessories that you must include in your upgrade, if you expect your comfort and indoor air quality to dramatically improve from your insulation upgrade.
6. Whole House Fan Cozy. If you’ve got a whole house fan in your home, you really need to seal that shutter when it’s not being used. A great product is the Shutter Seal by Battic Door. I’ve proven many times over-and-over, using an infrared thermometer, that the aluminum shutter is 40 degrees warmer than the sheetrock 2” away from the shutter… UNTIL we installed our Whole-House Fan Cozy. You’ve got to stop that extreme summer heat gain and winter heat loss, AND the huge amount of uncontrolled air infiltration trespassing into & out of your home, from that huge metal shutter in your ceiling!
Conclusion
When you talk with an insulation contractor, you very likely are talking to a person who is a product-driven sales person. They are limited by what they sell - and therefore limit you with what you can expect from their services.

Contrast that experience with talking to us at Bird Family Insulation. It takes a few minutes longer, but we learn your motive, your project goals. We study your house on the internet, and ask inductive questions. We’re a solution-driven company; meaning we don’t accept a job where we aren’t confident that our services will enthusiastically meet your goals!

8 Words I’ve Never Heard From Our Clients:
“Bob, I wish I hadn’t added more insulation”

Bob Bird, Bird Family Insulation
 
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